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Kingdom allows Binladin Group to return to construction

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Authorities have allowed construction giant Binladin Group to tender for public building projects in the Kingdom again, Al-Watan reported, just days after the firm reportedly laid off 77,000 workers.

Al-Watan reported on Thursday that a royal decree passed this week granting tender permission could aid the group, which has faced scrutiny since one of its cranes collapsed in Makkah last September, killing and injuring a number of pilgrims and visitors.

The paper had earlier reported that as of last Sunday 77,000 Binladin Group workers had been laid off. The group confirmed some departures, but refused to provide an exact figure.

The staff, senior executives and workers of the Binladin Group breathed a big sigh of relief after the supreme approval was given to reclassify the Group as a construction firm, which has enabled it to return to the execution of projects, Al-Watan reported on Thursday.

Under the royal approval, the ban has been lifted on the travel of the officials and members of the Group’s board of directors and its senior officials.

The company was stopped from carrying out its construction activities after the crane crash incident in the Grand Mosque.

About 80 engineers and officials of the group were questioned by the Bureau of Investigation and Public Prosecution (IBP) in connection with the incident. The group is undertaking the expansion project of the Holy Haram.

According to the newspaper, since the approval was issued the staff has held a series of meetings to reorganize the Group’s various sections amid the great joy and exultation of its employees and the workers.

Abdullah Al-Hareef, spokesman of the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) said work had resumed on the new King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah following the royal approval.

Saudi Binladin Group was founded more than 80 years ago. It developed landmarks including the domed Faisaliah Tower in central Riyadh and the Makkah Royal Clock Tower, one of the world’s tallest buildings.

On Tuesday, Saudi Arabia’s labor minister said the current imbroglio over the payment of salaries would be resolved soon. He said some of the Binladin Group workers would receive their salaries this month and others soon thereafter. Labor Minister Mufrej Al-Haqbani said workers are protected under Saudi labor law and would receive overdue salaries even if they were fired and issued exit visas.

One of Saudi Arabia’s most powerful firms, the Saudi Binladin Group has laid off 77,000 foreign workers, Al-Watan had reported on Monday, citing an anonymous company official.

Saudi Binladin Group confirmed to AFP that some staff have been let go, but gave no numbers. “The size of our workforce is always appropriate to the nature and size of projects and the timeframe in which they are to be carried out by the Group,” Yaseen Alattas, a Saudi Binladin Group spokesman, told AFP then.

He had said workforce changes would be normal “especially when some projects have ended or are about to end”. Most of the jobs eliminated “are on specified term contracts” for particular projects, Alattas said in an email. — with inputs from agencies.

[Source: Saudi Gazette]
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